Eat Right, Judge Less, Love More


Category Archive

The following is a list of all entries from the recipe category.

What’s old is new again

It’s no surprise to anyone who knows me that I really like to cook, and I’d say it’s true regardless of what I’m making.  So, as fun as it is for me to find a fun new recipe and go buy whatever I need to make a specific meal, I also really enjoy the challenge of “I have x, y and z in my fridge, what the heck do I make?” – and I certainly deal with this far more often.

But there’s an additional challenge: my parents.  Despite claiming the contrary, my parents are not really big on leftovers, and can be easily skeeved by day-old food.  (If you can explain how I was raised by these people, I’m all ears).  Thus, in an attempt to minimize waste (of food and money) I’ve gotten pretty good at not only using leftovers, but DISGUISING them.  On one hand, this frustrates me, because I know how much food they must waste when I’m not around.  But at the same time, I enjoy the challenge – it’s great practice.  I mean, leftovers have a bad rap, no question.  But people are suckers for good marketing and a pretty package.  So it’s no mistake when ‘last night’s steak’ becomes a breakfast hash, or leftover chicken becomes chicken salad- it’s marketing, by taking the ‘old’ and regifting it – in a prettier, more palatable package.

I had a fun experience with this today – I figured walking you through the thought process might be more fun than just telling the story outright.  Here’s what I was working with:

Ingredients: low-sodium tomato juice that mom wanted to get rid of, and a half-used container of sour cream

Inspiration: tomato soup, my dad’s favorite – my mom & dad could eat tomato soup with crackers for dinner all the time.

Goal: creamy tomato soup

I was literally walking out the door to dump this for my mom, because I don’t drink vegetable juice and she said it was “awful.” But when I opened it, it smelled really good.  I poured a small glass, and it tasted pleasant too – like a gazpacho.  I could have stopped here and served it as a soup, I guess, but I was afraid they’d recognize the taste and not be into it.  And so the experimenting began.

1. Juice + heat + sour cream – verdict: looks right, but too sour-cream-y

2. Add the universal taste maker (butter!) – verdict: still too sour-cream-y.  In black bean soup, that seems appropriate, but it isn’t meshing well.  Tastes, I dunno, Mexican?

3. Aha! I decided to play up the Mexican flavors (it is cinco de mayo, after all) & add dried cilantro – verdict: getting there! but it needs something… what other flavors go with the Mexican theme?

I’m thinking…

…Will they?

I hope we…

…Yesss!!!

4. Add TEQUILA – verdict:  Success! This added a really nice dimension to the flavor, and really sold me on the ‘Mexican tomato soup’ idea.  I just needed to balance all the savory flavors with a little sweetness.

5. Add… corn syrup? Not one of my favorite ingredients but I didn’t have my first choice (agave nectar) and there was some corn syrup in the pantry leftover from another recipe – verdict: great! (I’m sure brown or white sugar would have worked just as well).

At this point it was basically done. I brought it to a boil to concentrate the flavors a bit, added a bit more butter for mouthfeel (great food-snob word!), and will attempt to serve it for dinner tonight.  Hopefully the ‘critics’ like it!

Update: THEY LOVED IT! Served with some guacamole on the side, it was a cinco de mayo success! 🙂

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Lazy Sunday

I took a cue from Mr. Samberg and Mr. Parnell and treated myself to a glorious lazy Sunday.  Normally, being idle makes me antsy, But I think I was fighting off a cold or something – all I wanted to do was rest.  So, this weekend, I went home and welcomed the sloth-lifestyle with open arms – I napped, I watched a movie, I slept late, I ate fried food – and I’m looking forward to being able to start my week feeling refreshed.
On the downside, writing went out the window, but a preview of what’s to come: crumbs cupcakes, chicken curry, bucket lists, and a cleaning frenzy!


heirloom tomato salad

Heirloom Tomato Salad

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

1-2 tablespoons minced shallot

2 ripe heirloom tomatoes

2-3 basil leaves

salt & pepper, to taste

Simmer balsamic vinegar and shallots over medium heat until reduced by at least half, about 5 minutes. If the mixture begins to get syrupy before then, remove from heat. Meanwhile, cut tomatoes into wedges and remove core (if necessary). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cut basil into ribbons or small pieces & sprinkle over tomatoes. Drizzle with shallot vinegar reduction & serve.


Birthday Dinner

I was totally convinced I wanted nothing more for my birthday than a few of my favorite products from Kiehl’s, and for Alex and I to go out to eat somewhere nice.  There’s this fancy greek seafood restaurant near Alex’s house that I’ve been dying to go to, but Friday turned out to be all kinds of busy – Alex had two exams in the morning, we both had to go to work, and we had a whole bunch of shopping and other stuff to do for the party on Saturday – and so fancy dinner got pushed back.  (We are notorious for things like this, I might add.  We have made and broken plans to go to this restaurant about six times.  Maybe seven will be the one.)

Since we decided to eat in, I wanted to make sure we had a cooler-than-normal dinner so that it would still feel special.  I built dinner around a flank steak recipe I had seen on food network with a garlic & lime marinade that looked delicious and seemed easy…exactly what I was looking for!  As a slight departure, I used the marinade on skirt steaks, considering I only had a few hours and didn’t think I could get the tenderness I wanted if I had used the tougher flank steak.  I also made a chimichurri sauce to put over the meat, and served roasted sweet potatoes and a salad on the side.  It came together fast and Alex and I both loved it! So much so that I used the marinade again, this time on salmon for dinner tonight.  Results were less stunning (mostly because the greenish brown coriander, which had been camouflaged against the steak, looked off against the pink salmon) but still tasty!

Skirt Steak with Chimichurri Sauce

(adapted from foodnetwork.com)

Marinade:

Combine the garlic, coriander, cayenne, lime and pinch of salt with enough olive oil to make a loose paste. Coat the skirt steak, cover & let marinate in the refrigerator at least two hours.  Do not remove from refrigerator until ready to grill.  Cook about 6 minutes per side for medium rare.  Let meat rest for 10 minutes, slice & drizzle with chimichurri sauce (below).

Chimichurri Sauce:

  • 1 cup cilantro leaves
  • 1 cup parsley leaves (recipe called for flat leaf, I used curly with great results)
  • 1/2 cup mint leaves
  • 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pulse the herbs and garlic in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Add 3/4 cup oil, 1/4 cup vinegar and salt and pepper, to taste, and pulse to make a soupy vinaigrette — it will look a bit creamy until it settles.  If big pieces of herbs are still visible, continue pulsing – the flavors meld best if the herbs are in small, uniform pieces.  Add more oil and/or vinegar if too thick.

*****

Since I vetoed dinner plans, and we had already planned to get my Kiehl’s stuff later in the week, I guess Alex was feeling pretty bad that he didn’t have anything for me on my actual birthday, despite me assuring him that it was no problem at all.  So while I was at the grocery store, and he was SUPPOSED to be cleaning the basement, he jetted to Louie’s to get me a piece of my FAVORITE chocolate cake (it’s originally from Junior’s in Brooklyn and one piece could probably serve a family of six) and greeted me with it as I pulled into the driveway, birthday candle flickering and illuminating his face in the dark.  This cake is heaven on a plate, the type of thing you’d only want on a special day, because you just couldn’t (or could, but SHOULDN’T) eat it more than once or twice a year.  Alex totally nailed it – the cake, the moment, the thoughtful surprise – it was exactly what I wanted.

(…But hopefully we’re still going for our fancy dinner!)


oatmeal raisin cookies

I made these last night after eyeing this recipe for a while at smittenkitchen.com.  I prefer them with chocolate chips, but my boyfriend ate six in a row, rapid fire, with just raisins.  Needless to say, they’re a nice treat either way.

1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 c. (90g) all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4-1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
3/4 c. raisins
chocolate chips, 3 per cookie (optional)

cream butter, brown sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth. in a separate bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.  stir dry ingredients into brown sugar mixture.  stir in oats, raisins and any other mix-ins.

chill dough for a while before forming into tablespoon-sized balls, and bake at 350 until golden brown just around the edges, about 8-10  minutes.

(from smittenkitchen.com)


last night’s dinner

I keep getting lazy about blogging recipes I make, but it’s spring break and I’m running low on excuses.  My boyfriend could eat italian food for breakfast lunch and dinner, I think, so lasagna and meatballs and the like are pretty frequent requests.  Here’s the recipe I’ve been using for lasagna, with well-received results.

1 medium onion (about 1 cup)
3-4 cloves garlic
2T olive oil
8 oz. ground turkey (93% lean)
3 sweet sausage links (premio brand)
28 oz. can diced tomatoes
1/4 c. tomato paste
1/4 c. basil
1T brown sugar
1T oregano
1 bay leaf
barilla lasagna noodles
15 oz. part skim ricotta
Parmesan cheese, to taste (2-3 oz.)
1 box frozen spinach
2 eggs
salt & pepper, to taste
good mozzarella cheese, about a pound

saute onion and garlic in oil until softened. add meats until cooked through.  add tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, brown sugar, oregano and bay leaf, simmering until flavors blend.  discard bay leaf and remove from heat.

preheat oven to 350.  cook noodles until almost tender, drain, and cover with water to prevent sticking.

combine ricotta, parmesan, spinach, salt and pepper and taste, adjusting if necessary.  add eggs.

in a 13×9 dish, spread sauce so that it just covers the bottom of the pan, about 1/2 cup. layer noodles, ricotta, mozzarella, and sauce.  repeat.  upon final sauce layer, add noodles, more sauce, and then a generous layer of mozzarella and parmesan.

bake, covered,40 minutes. bake uncovered an additional 40 minutes, or until top is golden brown and edges are bubbling – in a good stove, this may take considerably less time (25 or so minutes).

let lasagna stand 15 minutes before serving.


S’mores brownies

If there is one recipe that has increased my popularity, this would have to be it.  I usually reserve these for get-togethers when people are already feeling a little indulgent, or as a gift to someone special.  This time, the occasion is Valentine’s Day and the recipient is my sweeter-than-sweet boyfriend.

I use good quality “chocolove” chocolate and/or 365 organic chocolate, both purchased at Whole Foods.  Always milk chocolate, always more than one type.  The quality difference (over, say, Hershey chips or something) is worth the extra few bucks; usually I have everything else on hand so the cost of the recipe is limited to whatever the chocolate costs.

Ironically, these are probably the LAST thing I should be preparing today… I have been really focusing on trying to eat more sensibly, after a few bad weekends that have sent the scale in the wrong direction.  However, me feeling shitty about myself is no reason to deprive my slim sweetie of some goodies.  Just gotta make sure fistfuls of batter don’t magically make their way into my mouth…

S’mores Brownies

Crust
6 whole graham crackers, broken into small pieces (or about 90 grams of crumbs)
3T sugar
3T unsalted butter cut into pieces, room temperature

Brownies
8 oz. good quality milk chocolate, chopped
6T unsalted butter,cut into pieces
1/4 c. sifted all purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tsp sugar
4 oz. good quality milk chocolate, cut into chocolate chip-sized pieces
25 large marshmallows, cut crosswise in half

For Crust: Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 325 degrees. Butter sides of 9-inch square cake pan with 2-inch high sides. Line pan with foil, allowing foil to extend over two sides. Butter foil. Blend graham crackers, sugar and butter until moist crumbs form. Press crumbs evenly into bottom of prepared pan. Bake until light brown, about 7 minutes. Cool crust on rack.

For Brownies: Melt 8 oz. milk chocolate and 6 T. butter in heavy medium saucepan, stirring until smooth. Cool mixture to room temperature. Sift flour and salt into a small bowl. Whisk eggs and sugar in medium bowl until well blended. whisk in chocolate-butter mixture. Gently fold in dry ingredients. Mix in 4 oz. chopped chocolate. Spread batter over crust. Bake
until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 23 minutes. (surface may crack). Place marshmallows over hot brownies, spacing evenly. Cover tightly with foil and let stand for 15 minutes.
Remove foil cover from pan. Using wet fingers, press marshmallows together to fill in any uncovered spaces. Cool completely on rack. Lift brownies from pan using foil sides as aid. Fold down foil sides. Cut into squares. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Store in airtight container at room temperature.)


this might make you wanna vom

Laying on the grass in the evening shadows of a towering palm, he spoke the words I had been aching to hear directly into my ear with a whisper that seemed to say, ‘these words are just for you… don’t let them go.’ We have since returned to the cold reality of home, work, school, and the like, but I’m learning love has a way of warming you from the inside out. 🙂

Although we only exchanged I love you’s recently, I have  been slowly falling in love with him for the entire time we’ve been dating, with a few specific traits of his that I particularly love.  For one thing, he has found two subjects for which he is incredibly passionate – photography and animals.  Watching his face light up when he recounts, via photographs,  his travels to everywhere from the San Diego Zoo to India and New Zealand, I can’t help but share in his excitement.  Stacks of photo albums are brimming with photos of all sorts of mammals, and he never tires of sharing them with me.  I suppose this is common, but I have always found passion for life to be far sexier than the traditional six pack/square jaw definition of sexy.
Also, he is habitually considerate.  At more cynical moments in my life, I have scoffed at men opening car doors and such, but in reality, it is a pleasure.  Aside from the fact a date feels more special when a man goes out of his way to extend a chivalrous hand, his behavior speaks volumes about the way he was raised, to act with class and respect.  I can never imagine fighting with him – honestly – because he has always been more concerned with me than with asserting his righteousness.
I feel fortunate to be able to say that I could go on and on; he’s boyishly handsome, he appreciates travel, he’s incredibly bright, etc etc.  But I think one trait in particular – one that we happen to share – has recently contributed a great deal to the growth and development of our relationship: We both have a well developed love for good food. As such, we have already spent many hours in the kitchen, talking over a smorgasbord of leftovers or he hugging me from behind while I put the finishing touches on dinner.  It is so much fun to cook for someone who loves to eat, and so meal planning and cooking have been a blast.  As such, I’ve decided to start keeping track of the new things I make, as long as they get good reviews from me and my sweetie 🙂
Parmesan Garlic Bread

Ciabatta Bread, in 6 1″ slices
3T Butter
2T minced garlic
very generous pinch of parmesan shreds

Melt butter with garlic and parmesan over medium heat until uniform and starting to bubble.
spoon/pour over ciabatta slices (on a cookie sheet) and bake at 350 degrees until edges begin to brown.  This would probably be great in the broiler too.

Swiss Omelet with Thyme

3 Eggs
2T fresh thyme (stems discarded)
1/3C Jarlsberg Swiss, finely grated
salt and pepper to taste

Spray a small frying pan with Pam/olive oil.  In a small bowl, whisk 1 whole egg and two egg whites with thyme, swiss, and salt and pepper.  Mixture may be slightly lumpy.  Cook until nearly firm, and turning once, cooking for another 30 seconds or so.  Serve on toasted english muffin.